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Step into an exciting career in software engineering at Experian without an IT degree

21 Jun 2023, 15:41

Explore a software engineer career path with some myth-busting, confidence-boosting, uncomplicated facts.

Experian colleagues talking at a desktop computer: learn how Experian will train and support you

What springs to mind when you think of software and technology experts? Intellectual minds? Cutting edge workload? Challenging problems? An exciting environment? Phillip Gardner, now well established in his working life with top tech employer Experian, considered all these elements when he was switching his job-hunting focus to software engineering.

Future-proof your career

At the start of his research into the roles on offer after his degree in biology, Phillip admits he had limited grasp of the sector. The description ‘software engineer’ conjured up an image of people in hoodies, working through the night with coffee at hand and headphones on while they developed social media products. It was an impression soon debunked by the facts he uncovered.

‘I learned software engineering was a growing, future-proof career field that would require gaining lots of technical knowledge,’ he says. Phillip set his sights on securing a role at Experian because he could see the company was doing well and it led the way in all things data, technology and finance, three sectors he already had an interest in. Other factors that helped him decide included the amount of support Experian would give him while he learned, and the knowledge that his work would contribute to company’s growth.

All backgrounds welcome at Experian

Phillip didn’t feel his lack of a computer science or IT-related degree put him at a disadvantage: an outlook backed up by Kathryn Hardy, who is a talent acquisition partner at Experian.

‘Everyone receives the same support and training to get them up and running once they have joined Experian,’ says Phillip. ‘Whatever their background, everyone has their own learning style and needs that are discussed and catered for as they develop their career.’

‘Two thirds of our graduates for September 2021 came from a non-computer science background,’ Kathryn says. ‘We really do mean all degrees are welcome. What matters most to us is that you have a clear passion for coding, technology and/or software development. Show us this alongside your transferable skills, and we could be seeing you in September this year!’

Become a stand-out candidate with any degree

Phillip’s ambition to secure his dream job motivated him to sign up to a ten-week full-time coding bootcamp. Besides an introduction to different coding languages, the course offered a solid foundation and understanding of web development, something Phillip thought gave him an edge in the job market. He wasn’t wrong.

‘At the end of the course I could code simple algorithms and build basic apps. I found practising algorithm challenges, learning coding patterns, using data structures and planning databases most helpful for getting a job,’ he says.

Heads in the cloud, feet on the ground: training at Experian

Phillip acknowledges that, since he joined as a graduate, Experian’s training resources have helped him get where he is today. ‘I have been very lucky because those around me have heavily supported my learning throughout my journey. Most of my training has come through pair-programming sessions, where I will code alongside a senior team member who teaches me language features and architecture as we go,’ he explains. Though the prospect of someone watching him code felt daunting at first, the payoff has been rapid improvement and expansion of his knowledge. ‘In parallel I have been completing online training to support my learning and been part of non-technical training days run by the wider graduate team,’ says Phillip.

The importance of teamwork is fostered early on by Experian, as Kathryn explains. ‘After you have verbally accepted a position with us, you’ll be welcomed to our wider cohort via a private WhatsApp group. These small spaces allow you to connect, make friends and ask any questions that crop up,’ she says.

Experian also have a tried and tested scheme in place to take you from rookie recruit to valued software engineer. ‘In September, you’ll spend a week in our UK & Ireland HQ based in Nottingham, taking part in various workshops, activities and networking sessions embedding you into the business,’ Kathryn says, highlighting that the company has your back every step of the way.

Moving on up

Phillip has first-hand experience of the ongoing support Experian provides once you’re established in your new workplace.

‘The product I am working on has a Java backend and a TypeScript front-end, and I have been predominantly exposed to Java so far. My learning has also encompassed many of the associated technologies used to host, run, and test the product,’ he says. ‘My manager and I keep a record of the knowledge, skills and behaviours that I am encouraged to demonstrate. We have regular reviews discussing highlights and lowlights and have a shared record of my journey so far.’ Among those highlights is the excitement of knowing that the code he is writing will soon be in the hands of a customer, making their life easier.

Alongside his own ambitions, Phillip is keen to see more females joining Experian and he is passionate about championing tech careers and progression for women. ‘Less than 10% of technology leadership positions are held by women and I hope that in my career I can support underrepresented people to achieve their potential in work and leadership,’ he says.

Like what you see?

Kathryn recognises that setting out on a new career path can be both daunting and exciting, and encourages applications from those who have an interest and aptitude for technology, no matter what their degree.

‘The worst somebody can say is no,’ she points out. ‘However, if you don’t try, you never know if that no could actually be a yes and become a life-changing opportunity.’

The message is clear – the journey starts here!

Tips for a career as a software engineer

  1. Like Phillip, you can show tech recruiters that you’re serious about software engineering by signing up to a coding course. Organisations such as FutureLearn offer recognised courses free, with upgrades available for an affordable fee. Udemy and Coursera also run courses online. If you’re still a student, Kathryn suggests you seek support from your university or college employability team.
  2. Collaboration, resilience and self-reflection are the top transferable skills Kathryn looks for in candidates. ‘As a software engineer, it’s guaranteed you’ll make mistakes and get things wrong – It’s all part of the learning journey. What’s important is that you’re able to bounce back and grow from those experiences,’ she explains.
  3. Read up-to-date information in industry publications such as Computer Weekly and sign up for careers advice and job alerts through the targetjobs IT & technology section . Articles include insights into the key skills recruiters look for and how to develop them, as well as application and interview advice to help you secure your dream role.

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